Has anybody tried debtree (available in Ubuntu from universe)? It's an interesting tool which visualizes package dependencies thus providing valuable insights. It's usage is shown on this site. You should also read its man page. Using it is relatively simple: debtree aptitude > aptitude.dot creates a .dot file which can be transformed into a, e.g., png file with dot -Tpng aptitude.dot -o aptitude.png or, in one step, simply by executing: debtree aptitude | dot -Tpng > aptitude.png The result looks like this. According to the man page the color of the arrows indicate the following: Build-Depends: dark gold, bold Build-Depends-Indep: light gold Pre-Depends: purple, bold Depends: blue Recommends: black Suggests: black, dotted Conflicts: red Provides: green, inverted arrow However, there a traps. Depending on the package the created png file can grow extremely large. For example, I executed debtree --no-versions --no-alternatives songbird where the options already restrict the size of the output - but the png file was still 67 MB large! So it might be useful to use the options described in the man page like --max-depth=x if you're running into problems.